Why Can’t We Be Friends? How kindness, not intervention, can stamp-out bullying

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By Natalie Savvides for SWNS

There is simply nothing worse than seeing your child, being left out.  I have endured some pain in my life, physical and mental as indeed we all have, but there is nothing worse, for me at least, than seeing my child left out.  I’ve seen it before and I’ll see it again, but I will be damned if I don’t do all that I can to stop this kind of behaviour amongst children. It is simply heart-breaking for any child and any parent to be subject to such unkindness not least utterly unnecessary.

And so, following a second episode in my first child’s life where this type of thing was happening, totally unmerited as my son only ever wants to play with everyone, like everyone and want to be with everyone… I decided to do something about it. Not just for my own child but for all, for every single child out there, in an attempt to stop mean behaviour before it develops into far more serious issues further on.

The bullying epidemic is growing.  Both physical and mental bullying are rife in the playground and only made worse with the addition of social media meaning that children can no longer even escape problems of a tough day at school, when in the sanctuaries of their homes, as social media is everywhere and reaches many.

I don’t need to explain how the multitude of strains of bullying can lead to depression, eating disorders, OCD, physical, mental health issues, problems with social interaction and even suicide.  Inevitably affecting a child’s academic performance, wellbeing and happiness. This is well-documented material and is being addressed, although not nearly enough. My belief is that we need to change the way we educate our children from the start. Children are agents and heralds for social change and social change is what we need.  A child’s behaviour and development of character is most critically formed between the ages of 0-6 and so to avoid these problems later on we need to tackle the issue at this critical stage as a prevention now rather than a cure later.

Author Natalie Savvides with her two children.

Kindness is good for the soul, it is good for the brain.  Educating our children in kindness is essential in providing them with the strength to face the pressures of the world – like an insurance policy for everyday life.  By treating everything and everyone with kindness, there can only ever be benefit and gain. As I’m sure you are aware, it has been scientifically proven and documented in great detail how acting with kindness improves our physical health, mental health and wellbeing in general.  Our children need to live and breathe this.

My way of transporting these fundamental messages to young children is through the vehicle of Henry & Henrietta Heartbeat and their motto it’s cool to be kind.  Henry & Henrietta are mascots for anti-bullying and kindness educators; their mission is to make all children kind and happy.  These fun-loving, happy, bright, uplifting, excitable characters, educate children in very simple terms how to act with kindness always.  Each individual story documents the right way to act with inclusion, acceptance, equality, love and of course kindness in any of many given circumstances that children regularly find themselves in.  The stories are short, simple and in rhyme, they take place in the park, the classroom, playground, on playdate, at sports, in the home, many common day-to-day life scenarios that children relate to and they are loving them. The more we engage young children – from birth to six – in this ‘It’s cool to be kind’ concept and have them empathise and buddy-up with these new motivational characters, the more chance we have of making kindness a way of life for the next generation.

Henry & Henrietta Heartbeat are leading the way in this kindness revolution, which in my view has the potential of making our society, more positive, productive, successful and infinitely happier.  Be sure to get your copy of Meet Henrietta Heartbeat, an introduction to Henrietta, to begin your child’s relationship with these kindness icons. Meet Henry Heartbeat, the sequel, is out this December. Once children are familiar and resonate with these great characters and their message, ‘It’s cool to be kind’, the rest of the series each with their own kindness message will be released.

Watch this space.

Natalie Savvides is a staunch anti-bullying campaigner whose series of Henrietta and Henry Heartbeat books focus on imparting positivity, good behaviour and kindness among young readers aged up to six years old. Meet Henrietta Heartbeat (Austin Macauley Publishers) is available now on Amazon UK priced £9.99 in paperback. Meet Henry Heartbeat, the second in the series, will be published in the UK in January 2019. For further information about Natalie Savvides and her work, go to www.nataliesavvides.com.

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